Poems and Poetry

A Tale of a Family Tree | A Poem by Donal Mahoney

They buried Colleen Garrity today
a woman 95 few people thought
would ever die and what a lovely
eulogy her cousin Paddy gave.

Paddy must be 80 if a day yet he
told well the tale of a family tree
and about the day he was born
in the family farmhouse where
Molly the midwife was in charge.

Before she died Colleen told Paddy
how during his mother’s labor
his father stayed downstairs
playing cards at the kitchen table
as was the custom in rural Ireland
when a miracle took place upstairs.

Colleen remembered how the card game
stopped when Molly the midwife brought
Paddy bundled up downstairs
declared his weight and then
paraded him and his bushy hair
around for all the farmers to see.

His father roared and grabbed
his concertina and played a reel
called “Toss the Feathers” while
another man joined him on the flute
and third came in on an ancient fiddle.
Back then farmers played raucous
reels and jigs whenever a baby
was born pink and bawling.

Paddy’s granny lived in town
and the day of Paddy’s birth she
went house to house with a tambourine
banging on doors and shouting
the news that Paddy had arrived
better than any newspaper
and she didn’t charge a cent.

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